A young sperm whale was found washed up on a remote beach near Hāwera on Friday.


A 13th sperm whale found dead on a South Taranaki beach in less than two weeks will be honoured with unique traditional processes.

The 11 metre-long male sperm whale was found on Friday at a remote and often inaccessible section of Ngati Ruanui beach along the Waihi-Tangahoe coastline.

It is believed to be from the same pod as 12 other whales that have found themselves stranded further down the coast at Kaupokonui since May 24.

“This is the 13th whale, one of an unprecedented amount of young male sperm whales stranding along our coast in South Taranaki,” ​Ngati Ruanui rangatira Rukutai Watene said.

“We can’t determine what’s happening out in the ocean but we can learn to manage these losses in a way that brings to life cultural practices that honour and pay respect.

“We have invited Hori Parata and experts of Ngati Wai to educate and lead us through this process.”

Parata and his team from Ngati Wai in Northland have managed about 500 whale and dolphin rites for iwi throughout Aotearoa.

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said they were concerned about a young healthy male pod washing up in these numbers.

Part of their journey would be returning to the past in order to understand the present.

“As it is the first in many of our lifetimes, the time is right to learn through this process, allowing traditions to continue with future generations and to understand more of what’s happening out there.”

Ngarewa-Packer said thanks to the support received from Ngati Wai and Nga Ruahine, Ngati Ruanui would work together caring for both the tohora (whale) and each other.

“This is an intense process which we undertake with careful consideration. It takes many people to respectfully receive this precious gift named Utungia.”

They were being supported by the Department of Conservation, the South Taranaki District and Taranaki Regional Councils, and other agencies, she said.

Ngati Ruanui was managing limited access to where the whale is, and the danger involved meant only approved people knew the exact site.